Minuteman Auto Sales is more than a car dealership, it’s a resource to low-income families in the Frogtown neighborhood and beyond. According to owner Khalid Gomaan, he serves a diverse client base, is a top seller for Community Action, and a go-to solution for social workings helping clients find much needed vehicles.
Gomaan adds that business was strong prior to COVID-19. “We used to have profits of $200K a year. $1 million in sales,” he says. But, with the bulk of sales taking place during a typical tax season, having to close their doors in March made 2020 the “worst year” for both him and his business.
While car dealerships were technically allowed to stay open under an appointment-only model, this was not an option for Gomaan, who gets “99 percent” of his business from walk-ins. As a result, he did not qualify for any of the grants available to small business owners.
Since then, his lot has dwindled from 50 vehicles to less than 10. And while revenue has slowed, rent, utilities, and other expenses have continued. “We’re struggling,” says Gomaan.
While a grant would have been the preferred option, Gomaan says he appreciates being approved for the Saint Paul Port Authority Small Business Loan, which offers a low, two percent interest rate. “The money came at the right time. I was up to my neck.” The funds helped Gomaan catch up on past due bills.
Hope for the Future
While Gomaan works hard to save his business, he remains optimistic for the future. As he explains, “I know I can bring this business back. I started with one car.” And over the past 10 years, he’s had other bumps in the road including the financial crisis of 2008 and a one-time theft of 19 vehicles. And as he explains, every time he “falls down” he always “stands back up.” He expects to have his inventory and business back to normal within the next five to six months.